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Daring Not to Be Discouraged

From a talk by Tim Jackins1 at the England Leaders' Workshop, January 2014

There are some young ones who were born after their folks had access to RC and our thinking about young people. Different efforts were made toward those young ones, and the effect was different—not yet good enough, but better. Most of the rest of us, who came into the world before anybody had any idea about RC, were faced with everyone around us still having been beaten down from living in an oppressive society.

Maybe they could surface out of their distresses at the joyous event of birth and really see a young one. Getting to be around a new arrival and see again what it is like to be a fresh human is often the brightest spot in people’s lives. It can pull them out of their doldrums.2 It can remind them that it really is a wonderful thing to exist as a human being. But, by and large,3 even if people popped out of their distresses momentarily, they were pulled back underneath the surface fairly quickly. And sometimes birth is tough enough on everybody that nobody pops out of distress, and the young ones come out looking and looking and see people like they are when they wake up in the morning trying to remember which direction is up. They come out and are hopeful, but there isn’t any human mind showing. That’s hard on them. They keep on being hopeful off and on for a while, and they try to discharge the distress of nobody being there to have a relationship with—they try to discharge it, but they don’t get to.

If we don’t get to discharge, then distress accumulates enough that at some point we give up. We stop trying. The discouragement builds and builds, and eventually we say, “I’m not going to do that again.” “You’re not going to trick me again.” Somebody looked like they were there and they weren’t. Maybe we went out and reached for other people and they got upset. Different things happened to each of us. However, because we all live in societies like this one, the overall effect was similar. We each have mounds of distresses that look the same from a distance. If we start working on them, we find that they are quite different constructions, but there’s an overall effect, which is that we’re discouraged. How do you wake up in the morning? Discouraged. Who do you tell? “What’s the point? It didn’t work.”

As a small child, if you told someone you were sad, they said, “What’s wrong? That’s not so bad,” or they fixed it for you. They fixed the thing instead of helping you with the hurt. There just wasn’t the awareness that it could happen any other way. It wasn’t that there was a unique mistake in your family. It had to happen. Those were the conditions that existed for everybody.

Some children of Co-Counselors had it a little different. Their parents tried. They often couldn’t do much, but they tried. That’s significantly different. As a result, those young ones aren’t quite so defeated. They are also a little grumpier. We, their parents, promised that it would be better and then we couldn’t pull it off.4 We knew things could be better, we tried hard, and we couldn’t do what we wanted. We put forward what we wanted rather than what we could do. That misled them in a certain way. But the effort had good effects. It was good that we made the effort.


So we’re discouraged, and we have lived our lives in spite of it. It didn’t kill us—that’s an important point, it didn’t kill us—but we did give up and go along with a whole bunch of distress. Doing that is hard on us individually. It also keeps the oppressive society going. With everyone discouraged, the society can go on being harsh and oppressive without anybody challenging it. Distresses like discouragement keep us from thinking and acting together and figuring out how to change things.

Where does your discouragement affect you? Well, where doesn’t it? For most of us it’s chronic, it’s there all the time, though we can put a good face on it and keep going.

Because we are in RC, we know how to talk against it for someone else. If we teach RC, we know we are supposed to stand against every distress, and we have learned how to do that, at least in words. We can push in a somewhat rigid way to be hopeful. But we don’t often work directly on the discouragement. It has become too much a part of our lives. It has gone numb and become chronic. If somebody challenges it, we get defensive. It sounds like the criticism we always got from our family and everyone else: “You’re doing it wrong.” So it’s hard for most of us to keep in mind that it is something to work on.

Our struggles against this chronic material5 haven’t been entirely in vain. We’ve made gains and kept moving. It hasn’t stopped us entirely. But persevering in spite of a chronic, just grimly enduring it, is not the same as taking a direction against it. Not letting it kill us is a triumph, but it’s a little short of what is possible for human beings.


So how do we work on distresses that we all have in common? Where is the contradiction?6 Where is the reference point? How do we see reality, especially with society getting worse and worse, more and more quickly? Mostly we go silent. No humor at all. (laughter) It’s grim. It’s grim. Well, the first thing to question is the grimness of it. Yes, the society is about to destroy itself—and it scares us—but it needs to be destroyed.

I think discouragement is always restimulation. Circumstances can be challenging, but without distresses that wouldn’t be discouraging. Discouragement is never about present reality. It’s about a lack of resource in the past. There wasn’t enough resource that we could discharge the difficulties we ran into.

We were defeated over and over again as children. Most of us can’t even admit that. Not admitting it is how we kept going. We felt it, but we weren’t going to admit it to anybody—as if it might give someone satisfaction. So we haven’t worked on the defeats. How could we? We were so adamantly holding the position that they didn’t happen.

This is all about the past. Because it is about the past, it can’t hurt us now. We can’t lose to it. It’s done the damage it’s going to do, and that damage has remained only because we haven’t been able to discharge it. The question is, do we have the resource now to discharge it? I think so. I think we get to test that out. Besides, any effort against chronic material is always useful. It changes our perspective.

Sometimes discouragement can lead us to give up on ourselves and work on the distress by blaming other people. This misleads us. One of the earliest and hardest things that happens to all of us is that we give up on our minds. Because we get defeated and don’t get to discharge it, we doubt our abilities, including our ability to make up our minds7 in spite of distress.

The discouragement has nothing to do with the present, nothing to do with our minds or our capabilities. It’s entirely distress from the past. Yet every morning we wake up in the middle of it and it feels thoroughly believable. Most of us figure out some way to get out of bed. We can all share our individual methods. I suggested to someone that she roll out of bed, fall on the floor, and crawl moaning to the bathroom. It’s difficult to take your material seriously doing that.

Of course that’s the problem. We believe the material. And we are waiting for someone to make it feel better, feel not so hard. That doesn’t happen, because everybody has the same material. But our minds have power in spite of being hurt. We can make decisions in spite of the cloud of distress that may hang over us.


Challenging chronic material brings up all the feelings connected with it.  That’s what always happens when we challenge a distress. It becomes accessible for discharge. We don’t get to ignore it anymore. We don’t get to be numb to it. Horrible things happened to us in our childhoods. They did. And we didn’t have the resource to discharge them, so all of the feelings are still there. 

They are feelings about the past. They are not about us, and we have complete power over them now. We can go back and look at one of those distresses, discouragement, and challenge it in our head. We can refuse to be discouraged in the present. All the feelings will come up, and we will have to hold our ground.

It feels unbearable. It really feels unbearable. It was unbearable. Why do you think you gave up? It was that bad. Nobody gives up before that point. What do you think you’re going to find back there? You’re going to find the thing that you turned away from. It can feel like a mistake to go after8 it. It can feel like you are letting it happen again. It can’t happen again—but it’s that hard, the feelings are that confusing. It was that bad. And it’s over. You can get rid of it now, with discharge. You have enough resource here, I am quite sure, to make that happen.

We can look at where we first had to give up. As we start to discharge on it, it will change. It will go from unbearable to miserable. It will shift up the scale just slightly, and something interesting will happen in our understanding. If we look at any distress, think about it, and don’t just throw ourselves back into it, we see it shift. With every little piece of discharge, something changes in our minds.


Most of us learned how to work on heavy distresses by going back and reliving what happened to us. It worked. That’s why we are here. We went back believing that we were as small and hurt and victimized as we were back then, we discharged and discharged, and something moved. But that isn’t the only perspective we can work from, and it’s not a perspective we want to stay in for too long. It confuses us about who we are now. It doesn’t split us cleanly from our distresses. The bad event is over. It’s done. It’s not happening to us anymore. This time we’re going back as an ally to the person it happened to. We’re going back to finish an unfinished process. Back then we didn’t have the conditions or the resource to finish it. I think we do now. We get less and less confused about our distresses as we discharge. I think we may be at the point where we can take on9 anything.


I want us to play with the idea of taking on the worst things that ever happened to us, and the chronic distress recordings that developed. Discouragement is the one that I want us to take on first. I want us daring not to be discouraged. 

Do you know how different our faces would look? This is why I look at babies. I look to see the curve of their lips before any tension gets there. It’s not always the same curve, there are all these different ones, but there’s this lovely sweet curve of muscles that don’t have distress grabbing on to them. It’s a sweet little indication that I look for. Our mouths could probably look like that, too. We could have a sweet little curve, a little upturned corner. We probably did. We can probably get it back. We just have a few distresses to pry off to undo how our muscles act all the time.

Do you dare to consider this? Think for a moment. Try to put your mind there. Don’t just listen to me. Actually turn in your mind and try to challenge the discouragement. For some people, just sitting up tall and lifting their head is enough contradiction. In my mind I imagine a physical turn. I turn and face the thing that I walked away from forever. I face it and say, “Okay, it’s my turn now. I lost, you beat me, it had to be that way, and now I am back.” I turn, and whatever the challenge is in my mind, I make the decision to go there.

1 Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.
2 “Doldrums” means stagnation and despondency.
3 “By and large” means in general.
4 “Pull it off” means make it happen.
5 “Material” means distress.
6 Contradiction to the distress
7 “Make up our minds” means make a decision.
8 “Go after” means pursue.
9 “Take on” means confront and do something about.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00